Give the 66-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger a little bit of credit: at least he’s not doing exactly the same old thing again.
In its commercials and trailer, Schwarzenegger’s new action film, Sabotage, certainly looks and feels like more of the same. There he is, holding semi-automatic weapons, shuffling his old-man body through high-stakes action as if he’s Hulk Hogan in a modern-day WWE ring, and making obvious, on-the-nose jokes about being so much older than his younger, more nubile co-stars (including Sam Worthington, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, and The Killing’s Mirielle Enos). But less than a minute into Sabotage, it becomes aggressively clear that director David Ayer (End of Watch) didn’t set out to make another silly romp like The Last Stand or those Expendables flicks. Opening with video footage of a kidnapped woman being tortured and slowly murdered by Mexican assassins, resembling similar images sent over by terrorists in real-life, Sabotage quickly establishes that it’s much bleaker and more gruesome than your average Arnie Schwarzenegger movie. Put it this way: at one point, a familiar actor’s body is seen nailed to a ceiling with his guts hanging out of his ripped-open stomach.
And if you’re into that sort of thing, Sabotage should quench your bloodlust, if not turn you into a viscera-stuffed glutton. At an overzealous 110 minutes long, Ayer’s hard-R film is too bloated to ultimately sustain its early impact, and his and co-screenwriter Skip Woods’ sloppy attempts to offset the carnage with scatological jokes give Sabotage the distinction of being Schwarzenegger’s most schizophrenic movie.
Even worse, when the film gets dark, the fact that Schwarzenegger’s good acting years are long behind him is tough to ignore. Sabotage centers around his character, John “Breacher” Wharton, and his team of DEA Special Ops agents snatching $10 million from a Mexican drug lord’s mansion, a plan that goes haywire when the money disappears. Six months later, Breacher’s men (and one woman) start getting offed slasher-movie style, and the corpses all trace back to the time when Breacher’s wife and teenage son were abducted by the Mexican cartel, tortured, and slaughtered, their body parts mailed back home to him in individual packages. Yup, Last Action Hero, this ain’t. Nor is it Mystic River—the moments where Schwarzenegger grieves over his butchered loved ones are, at best, comical. Having present-day Arnold try to emote like Sean Penn is akin to asking Kate Upton to play [Insert Any Jennifer Lawrence Movie Role Here].
You know what Schwarzenegger can still do really well, though? Turn silly one-liners into timeless crowd-pleasers—and he’s been given an amazing one in Sabotage. It comes while investigators played by Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau are watching footage of two detectives interrogating Breacher about the missing $10 million. One of the dicks is trying to turn Breacher against his DEA buddies, which the grizzled geriatric doesn’t appreciate.
His response directed towards the chubbier of the two dicks:
”Fuck you and your 48% body fat!”
The audience at the screening I attended earlier this week burst into loud applause and sustained laughter. Sabotage will come and go, but that one-liner is here to stay. Or it should be, at least. It’s the best thing Arnold Schwarzenegger has done on screen since he became the Artist Formerly Known as The Governator in 2011.
BONUS: Since we’re unable to provide any audio for the Austrian icon’s latest gem, let’s revisit all of his past classics with our Arnold Schwarzenegger Soundboard.